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Do you know this unknown benefit of happiness?

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Happiness comes with many benefits.  You’ll feel better about yourself, you’ll be more confident, and you’ll generally have better health.  But there is really another benefit that people rarely know or don’t ever experience because they’ve not decided to make happiness a requirement in their lives.  Any idea what benefit I’m talking about?  Perhaps this short story can help…

Who you are speaks louder to me than anything you can say.

At the beginning of my 8:00 a.m. class one Monday at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), I cheerfully asked my students how their weekend had been. One young man said that his weekend had not been very good. He’d had his wisdom teeth extracted. The young man then proceeded to ask me why I always seemed to be so cheerful. His question reminded me of something I’d read somewhere before: “Every morning when you get up, you have a choice about how you want to approach life that day”, I said to the young man. “I choose to be cheerful”. “Let me give you an example”, I continued.

The other 60 students in the class ceased their chatter and began to listen to our conversation. As soon as I got there, I called AAA and asked them to send a tow truck. The secretary in the Provost’s office asked me what had happened. “This is my lucky day”, I replied, smiling. “Your car breaks down and today is your lucky day??” She was puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“I live 17 miles from here”, I replied. “My car could have broken down anywhere along the freeway. It didn’t. Instead, it broke down in the perfect place: off the freeway, within walking distance of here. I’m still able to teach my class, and I’ve been able to arrange for the tow truck to meet me after class. If my car was meant to break down today, it couldn’t have been arranged in a more convenient fashion.” The secretary’s eyes opened wide, and then she smiled. I smiled back and headed for class. So ended my story to the students in my economics class at UNLV.

I scanned the 60 faces in the lecture hall. Despite the early hour, no one seemed to be asleep. Somehow, my story had touched them. Or maybe it wasn’t the story at all. In fact, it had all started with a student’s observation that I was cheerful. A wise man once said: “Who you are speaks louder to me than anything you can say”. I suppose it must be so.

Author: Lee Ryan Miller – story from his book “Teaching Amidst the Neon Palm Trees” 

The Takeaway

So the unknown benefit of being happy and cheerful all the time is that people make a positive judgement about you before you even say a word.  Who you are as a person speaks louder than anything you could say.  My wife just experienced this first hand with the generosity of others.  Allow me to share this true experience…

My wife is collecting for St. Jude’s bike-a-thon, a charity that we hold near and dear to our hearts.  With COVID-19 in the mix, we can’t have the normal bike-a-thon at our church.  My wife ran this bike-a-thon for many years before she took on different responsibilities at the church.  She has done many good things for many people and always with a smile on her face.  She is always cheerful helping other people.  Since it’s a bit more difficult to see people and raise money during the pandemic, she decided to start a collection for the event on her Facebook page.  She set a goal of $100, which was met within just one hour.  She then raised the goal, and more money continued to roll in.

She was pleasantly surprised about the giving of others during this time.  We got some great donations from friends.  When she mentioned it to me, she said she had quickly put something online, with no expectation of getting much.  Instead, money is flowing in for the bike-a-thon.  I simply said that, “It’s good people giving to good cause for a good person who asked.”  Always being cheerful and helpful allowed her to get quite a few donations for St. Jude’s without having to say hardly anything.

Know that how you act and what you do is how you are judged by others.  Do good things, be cheerful and happy, and let the kind of person you are speak for you without you having to say a word.

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